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Dish of the Week: Homemade Pierogi

Pierogi can come in all shapes and sizes, but most popular is the half-moon shape.
Pierogi can come in all shapes and sizes, but most popular is the half-moon shape.
Photo by Rebecca Siegel

From classic comfort foods to regional standouts and desserts, we'll be sharing a new recipe with you each week. See the complete list of recipes at the end of this post.

This week, we're covering the famed Polish pierogi.

Pierogi are a type of dumpling popularized in Eastern Europe. While the origin of the dish is undocumented and many ethnic groups lay claim to its creation, pierogi are widely recognized as being Polish. Similar to jiaozi (the Chinese pot sticker), some say the dumplings were imported to Poland from the Far East as far back as the 13th century.

Made with unleavened dough that gets stuffed with both sweet and savory fillings, the crescent-shaped dumplings are first boiled before being baked or fried, usually in butter. Though a mixture of potatoes and cheese is probably the most popular filling (commonly known as the Polish or ruskie pierogi), ground meat, sauerkraut, cheese, and a variety of fruits and vegetables can be found stuffed inside pierogi as well. Savory versions are often fried with butter and onions and served with sour cream, while sweet versions are often sprinkled with sugar.

Fry the dumplings until buttery and crisp; then serve them with onions and sour cream.
Fry the dumplings until buttery and crisp; then serve them with onions and sour cream.
Photo by stu_spivack

This recipe incorporates sour cream into the dough to make dumplings that are incredibly pillowy and tender but firm enough to hold the filling -- a mixture of potatoes and grated farmer's or sharp cheddar cheese.

Potato & Cheese Pierogi yields 12-15 large pierogi or about 2 dozen small

Ingredients For dough: 2 cups flour, plus extra for kneading and rolling 1/2 tsp salt 1 large egg, beaten 1/2 cup full-fat sour cream, plus extra for serving 4 tbsp unsalted butter, softened and cut into small pieces

For filling: 5 large potatoes (red), peeled 1 large onion, chopped Butter for frying 1/2 cup good-quality farmer's or sharp white cheddar cheese, crumbled or grated 2 tbsp sour cream Salt and pepper to taste

Optional for serving: Sour cream, chives, fried onions, bacon

Directions

For dough: In a large bowl, mix together the flour and salt. Add in the egg, sour cream, and cubed butter, then gently mix to incorporate a ball. Gently knead the dough -- cradling the ball , lifting it up, and gently dropping it -- until it is soft and no longer sticky, about 3 minutes. If using a standing mixer with a dough hook, be careful not to overmix. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes (can be refrigerated for up to 2 days).

On a floured surface, roll the dough out to 1/8-inch thickness. Using a cookie cutter or an inverted glass, cut circles of dough (3 to 3½ inches for large dumplings; 2 inches for small). Gather the scraps and re-roll dough, cutting circles until no more dough remains.

For the filling: Boil peeled potatoes until soft. Meanwhile, dice 1 large onion and sauté in butter until translucent. Mash the potatoes with the onion and stir in grated cheese and sour cream. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Let the mixture cool then form into 1 inch balls.

Place a small ball of filling in the center of each round, then fold dough over to form a half-circle. Pinch the edges closed with fingers or a fork and set on parchment. If needed, use a bit of water to help seal the dough. Repeat until all pierogi are formed.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and boil the pierogi, a few at a time, until they float to the top, about 8-10 minutes. Place in a single layer on a paper-towel-lined sheet to drain.

Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat and melt in butter. Add sliced onion and cook until golden. Add pierogi in a single layer and cook until crisp and golden on both sides, about 5-7 minutes. Repeat until all pierogi are cooked and serve with onions, sour cream and chopped chives. If desired, sprinkle on cooked bacon.

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